Being drafted is a culmination of years of hard work. To maximize this time in your life, let us look at the 5 steps every athlete should take BEFORE you sign your first contract.

1. Build Your Team
Who should be on your team?
Wealth Manager | This is your financial QB. Your wealth manager should help you build out your team of off-the-field professionals. A bad agent can ruin your career, but a bad wealth manager can ruin your life.
Accountant | An integral part of your team that helps you maximize your take-home pay. It is critical to find a CPA who is well versed in the athlete landscape and the uniqueness of your tax situation.
Private Wealth Attorney | As your income and celebrity rise you become more likely to be a target of lawsuits. An attorney can help protect your assets and assure proper estate planning.
Agent | Your go-to man for all things related to the field. Your agent should help maximize your career through contracts, endorsements, and career development.

2. Set Expectations
The day athletes sign the first contract they often become instant millionaires. It is important to remember that you were just as happy before you signed as you will be after you signed. As you approach that first contract, it is important to sit down with your financial team to lay out a roadmap of needs versus wants.

3. Establish Your State Residency
The most important number is not what you sign for but what you take home. Your state residency can play a big role in this number. Consulting with your financial team early in this process can potentially save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.

4. Audit Your Personal Brand
This is the perfect time to address all aspects of your personal brand. This includes detoxing your social media and all forms of content to assure your message is in line with your values. Teams, brands, and endorsers comb these profiles to find information about you. This small step can potentially avoid unnecessary outcomes.

5. Learn the Power Of “No”
As your celebrity grows so will the number of people that want to be part of your journey. This will range from genuine interest to self-serving individuals. Being prepared for this parade of requests and being willing to say no is a crucial step in avoiding unnecessary pitfalls.